School Board Member Updates: TAG, SLEP, Middle School and more
We’ve wrapped up our first 3.5 months since being sworn in on January 4. As I committed to you when running for office, I want to keep you informed. So here is an update for you on our work to date and what’s to come. I plan to share these updates at least quarterly and you can always reach me in the interim via my school board email. I am also sharing more frequent updates on my new Twitter account. Topics in this newsletter:
Upcoming Coffee: Ashley Simpson Baird and I will host our first school board coffee meet-up on Monday, May 2nd at 8:45 a.m. We intend to rotate these meet-ups on a semi-monthly basis and will adjust days and times to accommodate varying schedules. All are welcome! Please RSVP to help us with our headcount.
School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) Update: On April 21, the school board provided consensus to the Superintendent to move forward with the School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) advisory committee proposal. The approved committee includes several additions / revisions that were provided at our March 10 meeting, including an increase in the size of the committee and opening it up for applications from the community for the advisory group or the subcommittees. In addition to focusing on safety and security in our schools, this committee will review the School Resource Officer (SRO) program and make recommendations on the best structure for that program by December 2022.
Apply to join the SLEP committee (applications are due May 2)
Early College Update: One of the more exciting updates we’ve received this quarter was on our Early College program. Starting with the incoming 9th grade class in 2024, 100 students will be selected as the first cohort for the Early College High School program. Cohorts will be selected to reflect ACPS demographics, including 70% students of color and 60% who receive free and reduced lunch. Students will simultaneously earn their high school diploma and graduate with an associates degree at no cost to them from Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) that will fully transfer to the four-year university partners. This work is being done in partnership with ACPS, NOVA, George Mason University, and Virginia Tech. Career pathways will focus on high-demand workforce needs and interests, including instructional technology, education, computer science, and business.
Middle School Updates: For those of you with middle schoolers, or rising middle schoolers, ACPS will spend the next four months reviewing the middle school framework and instructional programs, including honors courses, mathematics courses, Dual Language strategic plans, scheduling, and offering college credit courses in middle school. The steering group will provide recommendations based on the latest research, with measurable outcomes and a three-year timeline for implementation Read more.
Talented and Gifted (TAG) Update: School divisions are required to have a comprehensive Talented and Gifted (TAG) local plans in place to support the needs of students. Over the 2021-2022 year, a TAG steering committee has been reviewing the TAG local plan (last approved by the Board in 2011), research on TAG instruction, and ACPS TAG data. This group will present final recommendations for board approval in late spring. Based on the March 10 and March 24 board meeting updates, the Local Plan’s steering committees drafted the “Statement of Philosophy” and “Local Operational Definition of Giftedness,” which shifts the focus from a school system culture of labeling students to identifying various levels of academic needs for all students in ACPS. This shift will allow for more TAG practices to be infused into Tier 1 instruction to benefit more students.
FY23 Budget: Two days after being sworn into office, the Superintendent presented his combined funds budget for fiscal year 2023, which we approved on February 10. Fortunately, the City Manager recommended matching the amount we are requesting as a school division to Council. Once Council approves their budget on May 4, the budget will come back to us for final approval and any necessary adjustments.
Substitute Pay and Planning Period Pay: Across the country, school divisions are experiencing a substitute shortage, which has been amplified with staff out due to COVID or other illnesses. If you recall the early January snow week, rather than day, we saw the impact substitutes have on ACPS when surrounding districts shut down.
To encourage more substitutes to join ACPS and recognize ACPS teachers who are frequently covering for staff when there are no substitutes available, ACPS has increased the substitute pay and is providing stipends for teachers who lose their planning periods to cover absences.
School Visits: Finally, I’ll end with the fun stuff that filled my energy bucket and reminded me why I love education and how honored I am to serve as a School Board member. In March, I had the opportunity to visit Douglas MacArthur Elementary School for Career Day. This was my first time visiting our satellite campus for MacArthur (where my kids attend) and seeing our students in-person and not in the Hollywood squares of zoom from the previous year. I had a blast having third-fifth graders debate school policy and serving as school board members.
I also had a chance to visit Alexandria City High School during lunch and learn on three different days as I judged high school students presenting testimony on their knowledge of the Constitution. I was so inspired by our seniors who volunteered to present testimony on their knowledge of the Constitution during their free lunch and learn.
When I was there, I also had the chance to visit our International Academy, talk to a couple International Academy student leaders, and observe a class. Our International Academy students and teachers are inspiring.
These visits were energizing. We have exceptional teachers and staff in ACPS who make magic happen with our students and we have great things happening within our schools! Let me know your thoughts on any of the above topics or other topics. Send me an email. I read all my emails and I'm trying to keep up with responses as much as I can while balancing work and family.
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